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“U WOT M8” is a shorthand for “You what, mate?” which is a colloquialism used by English speakers in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It is typically used in response to an incoherent proposition put forth by someone else, along the similar lines of “what did you just say?” or wat or what is this. Alternatively, the phrase can be used devoid of any context to confuse anyone that is unfamiliar with the expression.
According to Urban Dictionary, “U WOT” is the phonetic transcription of the interjectory “you what?” used as an angry retort to a bad news. Mate, when used as a noun, is a colloquial term mainly used in the United Kingdom and Australia as a friendly form of address among men, with its earliest documentation found in a Middle English manuscript named Sir Ferumbras dating to circa 1380. Its l33t-style shorthand form “M8” has been used in IRC channels and instant messaging since the 1990s. Its online use as a shorter way of saying mate was first noted via Urban Dictionary in November 2002.
Throughout the 2000s, “You what, mate?” and its variants like “WTF, mate?” and “what is this mate?” were frequently used as a retort in various forum discussions, such as this SEGA forum thread about funny screenshots (shown below) dated June 2005. In the thread, another forum user remarked on the use of “U WOT M8” as funny.
In February 2006, an Urban Dictionary entry was submitted for “WITM8,” a shorthand for the phrase “what is this, mate?” That same year, another notable variation “WTF, mate?” became quite popular after it was featured in the viral YouTube animation video titled “End Of Ze World”.
Sometime in 2011, the expression “U WOT M8” was adopted into an advice-animal style reaction image featuring an image of a confounded looking man. While the source of the picture and the site of origin remain sketchy, the reaction image has been embraced by several imageboard communities including 4chan, 7chan and Britf.ags among others.
Usage on Facebook
On Facebook, the phrase “U WOT M8” has been increasingly used in the absence of proper context in order to deliberately confuse other English-speaking users unfamiliar with the colloquialism. There are numerous Facebook pages containing “U WOT M8” in their titles, like “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so U WOT M8” and “My Little Pony (Friendship is U WOT M8)” among others. As it is often the case with online catchphrases, the confusion driven by the geolinguistic differences only amplified the popularity of the meme.